Green Lantern Movie Poster Image

Green Lantern



Entertaining but superficial superhero thriller.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie has a pretty powerful (if superficially explored) message: It's OK to admit fear; it's the first step to overcoming it -- though acting out of fear can destroy you. And when you're called to greatness, take heed.

Positive role models

Though he's a bit of a cad, Hal Jordan is a good guy with a caring heart and a fearless nature that he harnesses for good. There are villains, too, but they're clearly portrayed as such and are ultimately doomed.


The main monster, the Parallax, is pretty scary and could definitely frighten younger children. The movie is filled with loud explosions and battle scenes, mostly involving a lot of punching and throwing and, in one case, deadly light rays that sear through a character's core. There's little blood or gore, though in one scene, a syringe is shown plunging into a character’s eye. Another tries to attack his own father.


Some flirting and kissing; a couple is shown briefly under the covers on a bed. It's implied that Hal has had a one-night stand (he's shown in his underwear). Brief cleavage shot.


Occasional use of words like "s--t," "a--hole," "goddammit," "hell," "son of a bitch," "crap," "damn," "goddamn," and "bastard"; a character gives another the finger.


Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise. A few labels/brands visible, including Pabst, Apple, and an LG phone.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking of beer and hard liquor at a bar, but no one gets sloshed. Social drinking at parties.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this big-screen take on the classic comic book superhero, starring Ryan Reynolds as a cocky test pilot who morphs into a superhero, offers lots of fast-paced, combat-filled action, much of it cartoonish in nature. And the movie's Parallax monster is pretty scary (especially for younger kids), but there's isn't much in the way of blood or gore -- though one scene does show a syringe going into a character's eye. The movie is humorous at some moments and intense during others; it superficially addresses heavy topics like death and childhood trauma. Expect infrequent swearing ("s--t," "a--hole," etc.), some drinking (mostly social, by adults), flirting, kissing, and a shot or two of characters in skimpy apparel (one after an implied one-night stand).

What's the story?

A beloved member of the Green Lantern corps of intergalactic police has died, felled by a monster known as the Parallax that feeds off fear. The glowing ring that empowers him also hunts for his successor; surprisingly, it chooses Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a headstrong, impulsive, irresponsible, but talented pilot who's still plagued by the death of his father (also a flyer) in a fiery crash. Hal's not sure he’s up for the job (though he's clearly tickled by the idea that he's a superhero). As former paramour/colleague Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) reminds him, he's more capable than he allows himself to be -- but can he face off with the Parallax, even if it means confronting a childhood friend (Peter Sarsgaard)?

Is it any good?


Buoyant, irreverent, and not entirely satisfying, GREEN LANTERN is, as superhero movies go, heavy on the artillery (special effects) and light on profundity. Is it really that difficult to create a superhero with complexity (Spider-Man and Iron Man excepted)? It's not for lack of material; Hal Jordan, after all, has plenty of childhood trauma to mine. Although the movie acknowledges his torment, it spends much more time painting him as a bad-boy-with-a-heart enlivened by a ring that allows him to perform super-cool tricks. (As Hammond, Saarsgard does a better job at three-dimensionality but is also plagued by too much theatricality.)

The movie admittedly engaging at first -- wouldn't you be agog, too, if you discovered you had the ability to create anything simply from willpower and thought? But the conceit gets old quickly. Characters that could easily have lent Hal gravitas -- his nephew, his brothers -- disappear without a trace. Any nod to his shades of gray are quickly erased. This isn’t to say that Reynolds fails; on the contrary, his easy charm appeals. But next time (if there is a next time), can his Jordan plumb more emotional depths?

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why Hal is reluctant to step into his role. What holds him back? Is this a typical reaction of would-be superheroes in other movies?

  • Do the movie's special effects minimize the violence? How does the impact of this kind of violence compare to more realistically violent scenes?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 17, 2011
DVD/Streaming release date:October 14, 2011
Cast:Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Ryan Reynolds
Director:Martin Campbell
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written bymeljen June 17, 2011

Good message, some scary images

This movie had a very good underlying message of having courage, not running away, and not giving in. It did have a few swear words that weren't necessary and someone flipping the bird (though some younger kids might not get it as he was putting on a ring). It also has adult innuendos between a guy and a girl as they are talking about their relationship. Parallax would very possibly be too frightening for younger kids. He is a giant tar-like nightmarish thing that has sharp teeth and a gaping, glowing mouth and eyes. He frequently sucks the souls out of beings, where it shows their glowing skeleton & energy being pulled from them, and then their body falls back dead and shriveled. A dead body from this is shown very clearly one time. Another villain becomes deformed and you see his skull crack and misshape under his skin as his head grows. There is a scene where someone gets burned to death but you only see the fire coming for him and it is very obvious what is going to happen. A man tries to attack and kill his father a few times, and attacks other people. There are a few flashbacks of death of family members. A syringe goes into a man's eye (it's fast and shown zoomed out, but might still be too scary for younger kids). The overall violence doesn't show much blood, but there are bursts of frightening images that parents need to be prepared for. It does have a positive ending and shows good overcoming evil by believing in yourself. Our kids really liked it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old June 18, 2011

Green Lantern

This movie was sort-of lame. There wasn't enough action, and too much storyline. It made the movie boring. I laughed in a few parts and some parts were cool, but overall it was lame. What action it had, was either frightening or intense. I did jump a few times. Hal has a relationship, and he wakes up with a woman. B**** is used once. At a party alcoholic beverages are served. All f the Reynolds movies since 'The Proposal' were lame. I advise to wait for a dollar theater or DVD to see this.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 12 and 15 year old Written byWorldwithinreason June 17, 2011

Good movie but confused with studio's decision with language

I found it disheartening that the writers had to use inappropriate words to convey an emotion/message (i.e. bull****, the "B" word, a*****e) in the film. Why? It was a good movie that conveyed points of human characteristics through an intriguing and captivating medium. No good reason for the language except to give it that PG-13 rating to make more money. With regards to violence in the film, there are some scary moments and punching, but in my opinion it is tame compared to some of the other PG-13 superhero movies. (I still will not let my younger son (12 yrs) see either of the Iron Man movies or the new Batman franchise for the violence that is depicted). Know the maturity levels of your children before allowing them to see it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much swearing


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